The Southwest School of Art opens its 2014 All School Exhibition on Saturday with a reception from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Russell Hill Rogers Galleries on the Navarro Campus. We had the pleasure of a sneak preview on Friday evening at the private members' opening, and the exhibit will remain on display through Aug. 31.
The exhibition does not disappoint. The show consists of a wide range of work across all media taught at the school including painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, paper and book arts, fiber, metals, ceramics, and sculpture and integrated media.
There is student work, selected by jury, as well as works by studio artists and adjunct faculty who participated in SSA workshops, classes and programming from Spring 2013 through Summer 2014. This is not only an exhibition, but a sale. Much of the work is available, and this is a great opportunity to grow your collection.
Upon entry to the Russell Hill Rogers Galleries, we are greeted with a collection of shadow box collages. This is the “Teen Art Intensive: Bee Keeping” installation. These works are created by participants in the Teen Program at SSA, also known as Bee Nation. Adjunct faculty member Rainey, a past recipient of the school’s Annual Award for Teaching, leads the Bee Nation. The work is colorful and expressive, with the students successfully exploring a variety of personal themes.
Also, there is an exquisite tribute to the late Louise L. Oppenheimer, a gifted metalsmith who began her journey as an artist at SSA in 1992. The works are highly personal and demonstrate the depth that a mere piece of jewelry can hold. The works are hand fabricated using a variety of metals, gemstones, and found objects. Former Metals Department Chairperson Claire Holliday composed an eloquent remembrance. It made me wish I had the opportunity to know her.
Entering Gallery I, the range of work is almost overwhelming. This is made more so by the fact that this is primarily student work. The calibre of the art is excellent. It is clear that the faculty of the school holds the student body to exacting standards and promotes a culture of creativity and achievement.
Many of the works are skillfully crafted and quite beautiful in their own right – beauty in form or rendering for its own sake. However, in this rendition of the annual event, many of these artists are choosing to interpret political or interpersonal relationships. The melding of ideas, media, and ultimate form of the artwork makes for a challenge in the studio. The quality of the craftsmanship must not suffer or falter under the weight of executing the idea; it’s a tricky balance. The student work represented in the show navigates these challenges successfully.
In Gallery II, we find the Faculty Exhibition. There is absolutely no doubt of the talent brought to bear in the SSA staff. In this room, it is clear that these teachers lead by gifted example. Southwest School of Art has cultivated a vital and active faculty who are not only excellent artists in their own right, but they also have the ability to clearly translate technique into art. The ability to transfer that knowledge and inspire the next generation.
The Faculty Exhibition includes all new works by Justin Boyd, Margaret Craig, Robert Hils, Gregory Alan Johnson, Victor Pagona, Jillian Palone, Gary Schott, Dennis Smith, Ryan Takaba, Vincent Valdez, and Beck Whitehead. This show will travel to The Rockport Center for the Arts, Oct. 18 - Nov. 22.
Also, please keep in mind that works by SSA certificate students Dinah Coakley, Archana Kapaleeswaran, Carlos Moreno, and Mahalah Rood, in culmination of their studies, will be exhibited in the Ursuline Hall Gallery, which is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
The SSA offers classes at every level from beginning to advanced – including their relatively new BFA degree program. There are continuing summer workshops going on right now for children and adults, as well as new classes starting in the fall. If you’ve had an itch to be creative, this is the place to do it. You won’t get better instruction anywhere, and who knows, perhaps you will be selected to participate in a future exhibition. The only way to move forward is to get started.
*Featured/top image: Student, Colleen Walter Brin. Southwest School of Art All-School Exhibition 2014. Photo by Page Graham.